Memory and Nation

in The Specter of Salem

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780226005416
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226005423 | DOI:
Memory and Nation

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This chapter examines how the Salem witch trials were embedded in the creation of a distinctly American national mythology in the wake of the Revolution, and explores the role of both print and region within that creation. It suggests that the use of Salem witchcraft as one dividing line between the colonized past and the national present emerged from a deliberate effort to create a national mythology in the decades after the Revolution. The chapter contends that Puritan Salem's 1692 episode of witch-hunting provided an opportunity to demonstrate the moral progress inherent in the transformation from colonies to nation.

Keywords: Salem witch trials; American national mythology; Revolution; Puritan Salem; witch-hunting; colonies; nation

Chapter.  11233 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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